This week I did two exciting things: I successfully defended my grad school portfolio, and I held a funtastic art storytime!
I am a big believer in introducing children to the arts at a young age, and I wanted to use this storytime to get kids excited about the visual arts and also show them some easy strategies for art appreciation.
Look! Look! Look! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
Three adorable mice swipe a postcard with A Portrait of Lady Compton on the front, take it back to their tiny mouse house, and look at it every which way: they cut out tiny paper frames so they can look at little bits of the painting at a time, they draw the painting using only lines, they pick out colors they see and do not see in it, and they make it in abstract out of paper shapes! Oh, and they give it back to the humans unharmed, so no actual thievery here.
Interactivity factor: Great book, but you have to paraphrase the snot out of it to keep the little ones interested. You can get them involved by asking them to help the mice pick out colors, shapes, and patterns, though.
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont
After our flannelboard, which was mentally challenging this week, I wanted to do a fun and simple book to let the kids relax their brains. If you have not used this book yet, you’ve got to try it. It’s hilarious. The kid keeps saying he’s going to stop painting, but, you know, after he paints his head. And neck. And feet. And, and, and… The story rhymes and can be sung to the tune of “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More, No More.” Beautiful, beautiful art in this one!
Interactivity factor: Since it rhymes, you can ask the kids to guess which part he’s going to paint when the page turns, as in red/head, black/back, complete/feet, etc. That helps them develop an ear for rhyming, too. I can see this as a great flannelboard set.
Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman
This book is a fairly new release, and I just adore it! It’s about a chicken in a painting-in-progress who comes to life and tries to help finish the painting. Unfortunately, she spills the blue paint and everyone in the painting gets coated! Luckily, the chicken is able to fix her mistake.
Interactivity factor: Not bad. You can ask the kids things like, “What color is the cat? What color is the cat turning? Hey, the cow is blue! Should a cow ever be blue?” The book is short and fun enough to hold attention. Plus, “The chicken is sorry! Sincerely sorry!” At that point, I asked the kids if we forgave the chicken since she didn’t mean to ruin the painting. We all forgave her. Compassion is a virtue!
I’m the Best Artist in the Ocean
There are no words to describe how much this giant squid tickles me. He’s so naively and good-naturedly obnoxious. I feel like socially awkward kids can probably relate to him. In this book, the giant squid goes crazy for art and, even though the other fish are irritated with his messiness, nothing can repress his artistic ambitions.
Flannelboard: The Art of Shapes
I jumped off the deep end with the flannelboard this week. You know how I said that in Look! Look! Look!, the mice remake the lady’s portrait with shapes? Well, we have a portrait in our storytime room of Carol Ryrie Brink as a young girl, and I thought that instead of doing yet another “Five Little Fill in the Blanks” poem, I’d try something a little different. Oh, here’s the portrait.
First, I cut a small frame (about 5×7) out of paper, just like the mice in the book, so the kids could look at small areas of the painting through the “view finder.”
Next, I sketched the portrait as simple shapes. I’m NOT artsy, so if I can do it, you know it’s easy. I think the trick is not to get too detailed.
Then I cut the shapes out of felt. I used colors similar to the ones in the painting to make the process a little easier on the kids later.
When I finished, I had this:
Doesn’t look like much, I know. To do the activity, I held up the shapes one at a time and asked the kids what part of the girl they were. I went in an easy order:
- Top of dress
- Bottom of dress
However, if one of the kids suddenly said, “That’s the necklace!” or something, I skipped to that part and then went back to my order. We wound up with this:
Not exact, but close enough to be recognizable!
Art Supply Song
I told them we were going to pretend we had giant art supplies and sing a song. It goes to “Wheels on the Bus.”
The paintbrush on the paper goes swish swish swish, swish swish swish, swish swish swish,
The paintbrush on the paper goes swish swish swish,
All day long. (Act like you’re painting with a giant brush, or sweeping a broom.)
The pencil on the paper goes skritch scratch skritch…
The crayon on the paper goes scribble, scribble, scribble…
The Play-dough on the table goes squish, squish, squish…
I told them dance is art, so we did Dr. Jean’s Banana Dance.
Craft: Self Portraits
I wanted to do paints but couldn’t figure out a way to avoid a mess without buying a ton of those squeezy brushes, which are expensive. So I made frames and little cards with the dyecut machine and let the kids draw “self portraits” with markers. We haven’t broken out the markers yet this year, so they were excited.
How It Went:
Fabulously! I zoomed through Look! Look! Look! since some of the concepts were a little tough for the younger kids. I paraphrased like crazy so we wouldn’t get bogged down. I was really worried about the flannelboard activity being too tough, but I figured that if I could do puzzles at two years of age, these kids could handle the flannelboard. Sure enough, they did a great job! My second group had a rough time because they’re mostly two and three year olds, so I had to do a little prompting. Sometimes they didn’t agree with what I “thought” the pieces were, but when I put them up, they realized something wasn’t right. The first and second group were older and really on top of the game. They had a lot of questions about the painting, like how I got it off the mantle (it’s not attached, just leaning) and if Carol Ryrie Brink is dead or alive.
The other three books were very well-received. Of course the Banana Dance is always a huge hit, and they really liked the art supplies song. One little boy even insisted we do another verse for glue, which I decided goes “stick, stick, stick.”
We all had a great time, and I made them promise not to paint themselves like that kid in I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More. I’d definitely use all of these elements again, except I’d love a painting craft.